The Hobart Rivulet
This photo, which was not taken by me, is of a section of the Hobart Rivulet which runs under the CBD. The stream rises on the slopes of Mount Wellington and makes its way down through Hobart to empty into the Derwent.
In the days before European settlement it was the main source of water for the local indigenous people, the Mouheneener. Later it also served the settlers but over time it became dirty and polluted by the industries that set up along its banks such as sawmills and tanneries. Eventually as the city grew a large part of the rivulet was diverted and became an underground stream. There is a spot in Elizabeth Street Mall where you can look down and see it through a grating.
In the early 2000’s when we first came to live in Tasmania the Hobart City Council was still running a tour of this part of the Rivulet. I believe it has since been discontinued for OH&S reasons but Naomi and I, along with a friend of hers did take the tour back then.
We entered through a tunnel on the Royal Hobart Hospital site in Collins Street. At this point the Rivulet is above ground and during winter when there has been a lot of rain you can see the swirling waters which have been known to spill over the concrete channel they are contained by.
I have to admit that I do understand why the tours were discontinued. It was not an easy walk as it was necessary to step or jump over the water to cross from one side to the other. I was a little nervous about that even with the help of the guide and I certainly would not be able to do it now. However, I was fascinated to see this little known part of the city as we walked underneath the mall, the Myer Centre and the Spotlight store. We finally exited the tunnels near Harrington Street. I wished I could have taken photos myself but as the light was poor and I had to concentrate on not slipping on the damp surface it didn’t seem like a good idea. There was a lot of graffiti so obviously the place received a lot of unofficial visitors however as I hate graffiti when it is just tagging I would not have wanted to photograph that.
A few years later the Myer Centre was partly destroyed by fire and when the store was eventually rebuilt a breach in one of the underground walls one wet winter caused a collapse which flooded the site closing it for some time.
It is possible to walk the upstream section of the Rivulet through South Hobart. I haven’t done this as yet although I have visited the Cascade Brewery which uses water from the Rivulet in its beers. I have included a couple of links if you would like to learn more about this unusual part of Hobart.